Greenway route is great for casual riders, and autumn is the time to do it

Some of the most pleasant early-fall weather in the Pacific Northwest is right here in Medford. Cool early mornings warm to moderate temperatures by mid-day, making it ideal for outside activities. Add the changing colors of foliage along Bear Creek and you have great conditions for a scenic and relaxing bicycle ride.

Today's route is mostly flat with a one-percent downhill grade for the first six miles, followed by a return trip of one-percent uphill, for an elevation gain of 137 feet. This is a good route for casual bicyclists, as well as families who have had some experience sharing the road with motorized traffic.

Starting on the Bear Creek Greenway at Medford's Hawthorne Park, pedal north along the bike path toward Central Point. In four miles you will be at the end of the bike path at East Pine Street.

After turning left, follow East Pine Street for a short distance, then turn right onto Peninger Road before you reach the freeway exit to I-5 northbound. Peninger Road takes you along the west side of the Jackson County Expo Park and continues on to Upton Road. Turn right on Upton Road, at mile 5.4.

Stay on Upton Road, passing the baseball fields on your right, make a 90-degree left turn, then proceed until you reach the intersection with Wilson Road (mile 6.3). Turn right on Wilson Road, then right on Gebhard Road at mile 6.8.

At a sharp left turn, Gebhard Road becomes Beebe Road. At the intersection of Beebe Road and Hamrick, turn right (mile 8.1) and continue on Hamrick to the intersection with East Pine Street (mile 8.4).

Turn right on East Pine Street and ride the short distance back to the entrance to the Bear Creek Greenway (mile 8.6).

Follow the Bear Creek Greenway back to Hawthorne Park (mile 12.5).

Be cautious when riding the Bear Creek Greenway. Watch for pedestrians, people exercising their dogs, riding skate boards, rollerblading and other cyclists. Remember to call out "on your left" when passing others on the greenway.

The trees along the greenway send their roots up into the pavement, causing bumps and ridges that are capable of throwing you off your bicycle. Watch the pavement closely as you ride. Bumps and craters usually are painted in a bright color to alert riders, but sometimes the paint fades or roots create new bulges after the last painting.

Cyclists will also want to be alert and pay close attention to motorized traffic when on the short stretches of East Pine Street. Traffic can be busy at times in this area. Being close to the I-5 on-ramps, drivers are focused on changing lanes and not on watching for bicycle riders. Cyclists should be alert and wear highly visible clothing when riding along this stretch of East Pine Street.

Have a nice ride and enjoy some of Medford's temperate fall days and colorful scenery while out getting some exercise on your bicycle.

Bicycling enthusiast Bob Korfhage of Phoenix is a former president of Siskiyou Velo bicycle club.

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